Key defendant in drug-distribution conspiracy sentenced to 20 years in federal prison
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Georgia
Conspiracy operated from inside, outside state prison
BRUNSWICK, GA: A Georgia state prison inmate who participated in a drug trafficking operation while behind bars has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison.
Jonathan Alvin Pope, 39, of Waycross, Ga., was sentenced to 240 months in prison after previously pleading guilty to Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute and to Distribute Methamphetamine, Fentanyl, and Heroin, said Jill E. Steinberg, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood also ordered Pope to serve three years of supervised release upon completion of his prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.
“The sentencing of Jonathan Pope represents a key victory in the investigation and prosecution of a significant drug trafficking network distributing illegal narcotics in multiple south Georgia counties,” said U.S. Attorney Steinberg. “We applaud the outstanding work of the local, state and federal agencies who collaborated to dismantle this network and make our communities safer.”
The indictment in Operation Pope’s G.O.A.L., an Organized Crime Drug Trafficking Task Force investigation, was unsealed in July 2022. The indictment charged 14 defendants involved in a drug trafficking conspiracy that distributed methamphetamine, heroin, and fentanyl since as early as 2018. The drug traffickers operated in Glynn, Brantley, Bacon, Pierce, Coffee, Camden, and Ware counties, and beyond. Pope used contraband cell phones and electronic devices to participate in the conspiracy while imprisoned on unrelated state charges.
All of the defendants have pled guilty to various charges related to the conspiracy, including:
- Lena Leigh Davis, 46, of Homeland, Ga., who conducted drug transactions at Pope’s direction. She pled guilty to Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute and to Distribute Methamphetamine, Heroin, and Fentanyl, and is serving 135 months in federal prison.
- Richard Reginald Perkins Jr., a/k/a “Reggie,” 47, of Nahunta, Ga., sentenced to 168 months in prison after pleading guilty to Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute and to Distribute Methamphetamine.
- Kristina Ashley Montgomery, a/k/a Kristina Ashley Crews, 38, of Hortense, Ga., who conducted drug transactions as part of the operation. She is serving 126 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute and to Distribute Methamphetamine, Heroin, and Fentanyl. And,
- Clark Bennett, 51, of Blackshear, Ga., is serving 60 months in prison after pleading guilty to Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime.
“Poisonous drugs, such as methamphetamine, fentanyl, and heroin have taken a terrible toll on our communities,” said Robert J. Murphy, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration Atlanta Division. “Drug trafficker Jonathan Pope must now deal with the consequences of his actions.”
“This case exemplifies our commitment to prevent drug violence and criminal activity from poisoning our communities,” said Beau Kolodka, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. “It also sends a clear message that we will relentlessly pursue and prosecute the leaders and members of these violent drug enterprises.”
“Contraband cell phones in the hands of inmates as a tool to carry out crimes continues to be a challenge within correctional facilities across our state, and we are using every resource at our disposal to combat this issue,” said GDC Commissioner Tyrone Oliver. “Our Agents work closely with our law enforcement partners each and every day in our common goal of public safety, and this case is another great example of that vital collaboration at every level,” continued Oliver. “We are pleased to see justice being served on this individual for his role in jeopardizing the safe operations of our facilities and the safety of the public.”
The case was investigated under the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach.
The investigation was conducted by the Savannah Office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Georgia Department of Corrections Investigative Unit; the Brantley County Sheriff’s Office; the Ware County Sheriff’s Office; the Glynn County Sheriff’s Office; the Coffee County Sheriff’s Office; the Charlton County Sheriff’s Office; and the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office, with assistance from the Georgia State Patrol, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Frank M. Pennington II and OCDETF Coordinator Marcela C. Mateo.
Barry L. Paschal, Public Affairs Officer: 912-652-4422
Updated September 20, 2023